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Editor’s note: Ruth Thompson at Outdoor Chattanooga (a division of the City of Chattanooga Dept. of Economic and Community Development) is the Queen of Everything-You-Need-To-Know-About-Cool-Outdoors-Stuff. So, in an annual tradition, we asked Ruthie to give us her inside scoop for the upcoming summer. Here’s what she told us:
Chattanooga is an outdoor town. It’s official. From winning Outside Magazine’s “Best Outdoor Town” contest to bumping Tennessee’s bicycle friendliness into the League of American Bicyclists’ Top Twenty, our city has arrived.
Look around you. If the dozens of 5K benefits and color runs sprouting like dandelions hasn’t caught your attention, then perhaps the SUVs carting whitewater play boats have. We live to play outdoors in this town—and we do it well.
As we head into the heat of the summer, Outdoor Chattanooga offers our picks for the best outdoor events and activities for summer 2013.
Take Inspiration from the Pros
The Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships will be in Chattanooga for three years, beginning this year on Memorial Day Weekend.
The Time Trials happen at Enterprise South in front of the V.W. Chattanooga plant on Sat. May 25. On Mon., May 27 (Memorial Day), racers take to the streets and race from the North Shore to the top of Lookout Mountain and back in downtown Chattanooga.
This is the first year that the women will compete with the men on the same course and for the same prize money.
The road races are done in laps, and the viewing is free, so smack down an outdoor barstool along the course and join the party.
Full Schedule and Course Maps:
Try Standup Paddleboarding
SUP is here to stay and there are several options to try them out, including L2 Boards (l2boards.com), River Canyon Adventures (rivercanyonadventure.com) and SUP Paddleboards (SUPpaddleboard.com). If you want to venture beyond just paddling, try SUP Yoga at L2 or Waconda Bay SUP Yoga. http://wacondabaysupyoga.com/
Take a bike tour of downtown Chattanooga
The Bike Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System offers a 24-hour subscription to the 300-bike, 31-station system for just $6. Check a bike out at any station, ride for up to an hour, check it back in at any station. You can do that over and over again in that 24-hour period, cruising all over town at no extra charge.
Learn to Row
The Lookout Rowing Club conducts beginner Learn to Row classes in June, July and August. Each two-week session includes 10 classes and will take you from the first dunking to the final sprint to the finish. Cost is $300 and includes all equipment, instruction and a year’s membership to the club (which includes use of club equipment).
In the heat of the summer, the coolest place is underground. Raccoon Mountain Caverns offers a get-on-your-hands-and-knees-and-get-muddy Wild Cave Tour that’s an introduction to real caving.
Paddle the Tennessee River Gorge
Outdoor Chattanooga will offer special evening downriver floats through the prettiest part of the Tennessee River Gorge by kayak on June 20, July 18, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. Cost is $35 and includes all equipment and guides. If this trip doesn’t hook you on kayaking, nothing will. Make a reservation by calling (423) 643-6888.
Raft for the Cure Aug. 29
Wildwater Rafting partners with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to give all the proceeds from their 2 p.m. rafting trip to breast cancer research on Sat., Aug. 31. If you haven’t tried rafting the Ocoee, this is a great time to give it a shot, and for a good cause. The trip includes a special post-trip dinner and celebration.